An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader’s rule. An example is the ceremony in which the president of the United States officially takes the oath of office. (Wikipedia)

Today, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America. It was quite a spectacle. I quite enjoyed his speech, he made all the right noises, and it will be interesting to see how he fares. I also feel slightly sad that Bush has gone. I know that ultimately he was a bit rubbish, he did a lot wrong and a lot of people cannot wait to see the back of him, but it still had that ‘end of an era’ type feel to it.

Plus, I think I might be a little bit in love with Obama. He’s just very good looking (even if he does have slightly sticky-out ears).

It was not as sad as the end of the Bartlet administration. That was truly tear jerking. I am re-watching The West Wing from start to finish, I am on Season 2. And of course, I am absolutely loving it again!

Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. (Wikipedia)

I am having a bit of a poetry moment. I came home from university today, and having not been in my bedroom for some time, like to have a bit of a poke around and see what treasures I can rediscover. I just found some books (I have a gazillion in this room), more specifically poetry books, from when I went through a phase of buying them. I found one called Poems of the Great War, which is obviously linked to my last blog post, and then I was thinking about other poems that I like, and I remembered one that we did in class recently by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It speaks volumes to me, especially ‘knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.’ I just love that idea, that we make decisions and think that if it doesn’t work out, we can come back, and try again; but that the truth is we can probably never come back and try again, because the decision we made in the first place has altered our path. I love it.

I will be printing a copy of this poem and putting it on my wall. I am also going to start a journal of my favourite poems.

Remembrance Day

Rembembrance Day – also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates) or Veterans Day – is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War.

Today is 11th November, 2008. It’s 90 years since the end of World War I. I watched the service at the cenotaph on the television this morning, and heard a poem being read that I really liked, so thought that I would post it on here, and then realised that there are two other WWI poems that I particularly like, so I am going to post them all.

The first one, the one that was read this morning is Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon.

Have you forgotten yet? …
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same – and War’s a bloody game …
Have you forgotten yet? …
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz –
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench –
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, “Is it all going to happen again?”

Do you remember the hour of din before the attack –
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads – those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet? …
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Another one that I love is one that I saw inscribed on the wall of a building at the University of Toronto when I visited in September. I have discovered today that the poet – John McCrae – studied at the University. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

And finally, the last one is a poem that I studied at GCSE. It’s called Anthem for Doomed Youth and is by Wilfred Owen.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds


Barack, pronounced “BUH-ruhtsk”, is a type of Hungarian brandy (Palinka) made of (or flavoured with) apricots.

And so it has happened: Barack Obama is to become the 44th President of the United States of America. I am pleased to say that I watched the results unfold, in Top Bar at the University of Essex, and have to say that I am pleased as punch with the result. Not necessarily because of his political affiliation, I have never really been one for politics in that sense, because I do not know where I stand on the political spectrum, be it left, right or middle. I think it’s a momentous occasion, and I think it’s important for America that they have finally been able to elect a black president. In my sociology classes last year we talked a lot about racism and how it seems to be ingrained in the US, but that people often forget that the US is a young country, and still has much to learn. To know that a country that practiced segregation 40 something years ago has had the balls to elect a black man to run their country is something I think they should be proud of. Obviously there are a lot of Americans who didn’t want Obama as their leader, and I am sure we will hear a lot from those people over the next four years. But tonight I think they can celebrate.

I am just about to watch his victory speech, as soon as I can get my rubbish television to work!